Offroad Idaho 

Governor's chauffeured Suburban at home on the sidewalk

It can be tough to park in downtown Boise. Unless you drive the governor around, that is.

Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter's bodyguards have taken to parking their shiny black Suburban on the sidewalk behind the Borah Building, where Otter's office is temporarily housed.

click to enlarge Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's Suburban, or the one the Idaho State Police use to drive him around, parked in its regular spot: the sidewalk. - NATHANIEL HOFFMAN
  • Nathaniel Hoffman
  • Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's Suburban, or the one the Idaho State Police use to drive him around, parked in its regular spot: the sidewalk.

While Chevy may market the rig for its ability to pop the curb or even cut a new trail up to Bogus Basin, this aggressive maneuver has irked several people downtown, including some in City Hall.

"We're confident that the Governor's Office and the state police will arrive at a solution that will meet everyone's needs and uphold the spirit of the state law," said Adam Park, spokesman for Mayor Dave Bieter.

While state law prohibits parking on the sidewalk, the city does not ticket the governor's ride because it is technically an unmarked Idaho State Police rig.

"The city's policy is not to cite any police vehicles," Park said.

The Idaho State Police provides a special security detail to the governor. Officers often drive the governor to events and occasionally pick him up in the morning.

Otter spokesman Jon Hanian said that a city official did call and speak to Otter's chief of staff about the parking concerns. He referred the city to the ISP, as questions about the truck are a security matter.

"This has nothing to do with the governor's preference," Hanian said. "He doesn't care where they park. It is a state police and security issue."

Hanian added that Otter parks legally when he drives his personal vehicle.

Boise parking supervisor Stu Prince said the law applies to civilians as well as police vehicles but that his officers will not ticket the truck for now.

"It is ticketable, but we have been trying to change his actions," he said.

Prince said it is a safety and access issue, and of particular concern to the blind, though the section of sidewalk in question, at the corner of Eighth and Jefferson streets is wide.

Hanian said the Governor's Office asked the city for two dedicated on-street spots but the request was denied. Park said the request for on-street parking is still under consideration and was only made in the last month, after the complaint was lodged.

The state has also requested an on- street spot near the Idaho Supreme Court, Park said.

An ISP spokesman was not prepared to discuss sidewalk parking by press time.

UPDATE: Idaho State Police Captain Bill Gardiner called on Wednesday morning to explain the parking situation a bit more. Before the governor moved into the Borah Building, the U.S. Secret Service did a full security assessment on the building at the behest of the Idaho State Police. “One of their recommendations was to put the vehicle there for security reasons,” Gardiner said.

Gardiner reiterated that the sidewalk is plenty wide there to accommodate the public: 19 feet wide.

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